Democratic Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa is introducing legislation that seeks to strengthen Social Security benefits while increasing revenues for it. His Strengthening Social Security Act of 2013 has the following features: [Read more...]
Yesterday’s Plain Dealer had a story that same-sex couples legally married in another state but residing in Ohio will pay lower taxes than that paid by heterosexual couples in the same economic situation. The constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages passed back in 2004 when opposition was at its peak has now led to the delicious irony of same-sex couples paying lower taxes than heterosexual couples. [Read more...]
It is no secret that many prescription drugs are extremely expensive. Much of the price is not due to the actual cost of manufacture but due to the companies that produced them seeking to recoup the costs of their research and development and marketing investment plus their profit margin. The difficult question is how to balance the legitimate needs of the drug companies to stay in business while preventing them from simply gouging sick people for profit. What seems to be the case, at least in the US, is that the insatiable desire for profits by the drug companies are the main driver of the rapidly increasing prices. Timothy Noah says that drug companies make huge profits while artificially inflating the cost of bringing new drugs to market. [Read more...]
The mega-investment bank JP Morgan Chase has been at the end of repeated bad news. It just reported its first quarterly loss in ten years. What was interesting is that this was largely due to the bank having to set aside $9.2 billion in lawyers’ fees, which gives you some idea of the extent of the charges of wrongdoing that it has to defend itself against. [Read more...]
For those keeping score, the US government yesterday officially went past the old debt ceiling limit of $16,699,421,095,673.60. As of last night it had borrowed a total of $17,027,544,000,000 or about $328 billion more than it had the previous night. [Read more...]
If the debt ceiling is raised and the government is opened, get ready for more talk of the need for a ‘Grand Bargain’ to cut spending on earned benefits (I refuse to call them by the common but misleading name of entitlements) and other programs that benefit the less well-off in order to rescue the country from the pending disaster caused by runaway debt.
But all that talk is a fraud. [Read more...]
The headline on this article in today’s Washington Post says it all: “Senate leaders’ talks on shutdown, debt limit stall as sides await market’s reaction”. Apparently, the leaders in Congress are waiting to see what happens to the stock market today to see if there is a crisis that will force them to act. [Read more...]
Thanks to this interminable and absurd government shut down and the possible debt ceiling breach, I have learned more about the functioning of government finances that I ever thought I would.
One of the interesting bits of trivia is that although I have been reporting that the current debt ceiling set on May 19, 2013 is $16.7 trillion, it turns out that the figure is more precise than that. The actual figure, believe it or not, is specified down to the last cent: $16,699,421,095,673.60 (Table III-C). [Read more...]
The so-called millennial generation in the US is the focus of much media attention, much of it negative, decrying them as whiny, praise-seeking, self-absorbed, slaves to social network technology, and having a sense of entitlement. But a new survey finds that as they progress towards adulthood, they display many of the same characteristics as the generations that came before. [Read more...]